Open House, Fundraiser Planned at Historic Americus Colored Hospital

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Civic organization, local LDS Church work to restore piece of American history.

Community organizers hope an upcoming fundraising event will help efforts to restore an important part of American history. An open house and fundraiser is scheduled Saturday, June 28 at the Americus Colored Hospital, a facility that provided exclusive medical treatment to people of color throughout Georgia during much of the 1900s.

The facility was recently added to the Georgia Historical Register. Funds raised will help support the purchase of a historical marker for the site and restoration efforts.

Willie Cooper, an Americus resident who has conducted extensive research about the hospital, is helping organize the event in cooperation with the City Federation of Colored Women Club, Inc. Cooper has a special connection to the facility: he spent nine months there in an incubator after a premature birth.

"There was a time when this facility represented the only modern, specialized medical care available to black people in the state of Georgia," said Cooper. "The history in this building is priceless, and I hope we can preserve it for generations to come. People should know what this building represents."

Cooper is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is helping in the effort to restore and preserve the property. The church restored six incubators used in the old hospital, which will be on display during the open house.

Founded by Dr. William Stuart Prather, the institution was open from 1917 to 1953, providing medical care to countless patients who, in all likelihood, would have otherwise gone untreated. In addition, the facility's existence helped spawn the careers of some of the medical community's best doctors, black doctors who might not have had opportunities to practice elsewhere. Cooper's documentation reveals that at least 30 black doctors practiced at the facility.

"For many years this hospital, and the dedicated professionals like Dr. Prather, served a population of folks who had nowhere else to turn," said Cooper. "It is a beacon to our past, to a special part of Southern history, and it provides a subtle reminder of the enormous strength and courage of previous generations."

The event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m., June 28, Americus Colored Hospital, 133 Wild St., Americus.

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JAMES GILLEN

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